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Higuain retires from international play with Argentina

Nigeria v Argentina: Group D - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JUNE 26: Gonzalo Higuain of Argentina shoots over during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group D match between Nigeria and Argentina at Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 26, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Gonzalo Higuain’s much-maligned international career has come to an end.

The on-loan Chelsea forward revealed in an televised interview on Thursday with Fox Sports Argentina that “my cycle is already over” with the Argentine National Team.

“For the joy of many and not so many, my cycle is already done, as other teammates have also done so,” Higuain said, referring to Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia also announcing their international retirements within the last year. “You can stop worrying if I am in (the national team) or not, to take care of those who are or are going to come for the good of the national team. I want to enjoy my family.”

Higuain revealed that he received an email from Argentina interim manager Lionel Scaloni about joining the squad for Argentina’s two friendly matches in Europe and Africa this month, but Higuain declined the opportunity. Higuain has been the subject of some serious - and sometimes over the top - criticism from Argentina fans for his failures to live up to the big moments in finals. Higuain and Argentina played in three straight finals in three successive years, falling in all of them. Higuain missed terrific goal-scoring chances in each game, leading to much derision.

Argentina fell to Germany, 1-0 in extra time at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and then lost to Chile in successive Copas America, first in 2015 in Chile and next in the U.S. in 2016.

Higuain made just one start for Argentina at the 2018 World Cup as Argentina crashed out of the tournament to France. Per Soccerway, Higuain finishes his time with Argentina with 33 goals in 75 appearances. It’s a successful record of nearly one goal every two games, yet Higuain will likely be remembered more for his misses than makes, something he understood in the interview.

I’ll tell you that it is very difficult,” Higuain said. “In Argentina, what you can’t do is more valued than what you can. I think goals in qualifying are also important and they are given less value.”

The news is ultimately positive for Chelsea, or wherever Higuain will play his club soccer in the future, as he’ll be able to solely focus on his club career instead of flying across the world to take part in games. Higuain’s departure helps keep an opening for Inter Milan’s exciting young forward Lautaro Martinez, who scored for Argentina last week in its 3-1 defeat to Venezuela and looks like the next big thing out of the soccer-mad nation.